You have likely glanced in the mirror recently. Each morning I catch a few glances in the mirror while getting ready to start the day. But then I walk away and the mirror does not follow. As you go along through your day, you are not continuously looking at yourself. You cannot remember all of the fine details that you saw earlier in the day.
When we read in James about the mirror glances, it is compared to people listening to God’s Word and then walking away as if it was not even heard. This letter speaks about the need to have God’s Word written on your heart so that you can remember what you have read and heard. It also reminds us that we simply cannot be hearers of the Word, but we must also be doers on the Word. If you live out the Word (instead of the glance and then fading away), the Word is not only in your heart but demonstrated for others to get a glance too.
Today, have you read the Word? Have you taken some time to sit down and read a passage, a verse, a chapter of the Bible? Have you glanced and went back to your day, or have you taken what you have read and put it to memory? If people would look at your day, would they see God’s Word being lived out or are you taking mirror glances?
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” – James 1:22-25 [NLT]
When I was grocery shopping, I wanted to get a handful of different types of meats to prepare during the week. I saw the freezer area that typically contains the sale items. Sitting within the enclosed case were sweet brown sugar ham steaks. The price was absent. The price holder was there; however, they had not displayed the price card. Though I am very OCD with my budgeting, I decided to grab a few ham steaks since they were in the sale case. I figured I could get two for five bucks; that was the usual sale price.
I soon found out that the price wasn’t even close. Yes, the ham steaks were in the sale case; however, there was a reason that the price card was absent. The sale started the following day—a sale that required a certain purchase amount, thereby making the ham steaks only a dollar. What was my great price? Four dollars for just one! Boy did I allow myself to get led in the wrong line of thinking. If I waited another day and had the coupon that arrived in my mailbox, I would have enjoyed nice savings. As they say, looks are deceiving.
We often allow ourselves to see something and think one thing, and yet we are not even close to knowing the truth. The devil loves to trick us into thinking one thing is likely true, when it is anything but the truth. The devil plays on our fears and our doubts. He knows what will be most tempting. He knows what will pull you away from focusing on God. Remember that God wants us to fix our eyes on truth, to live truth, to know Truth. To do this, means that we devote ourselves to Jesus Christ, and we dedicate time for individual Bible reading and group study. Church attendance is important too. Allowing the Spirit to move is crucial. When you do this, you allow yourself to be filled with God’s Truth, and it is then more difficult for you to be led astray. Note, I didn’t say you won’t get led astray—only that it will be harder to be led astray. Today, take a step closer to Jesus. Spend time in His Word. Seek out His Truth. Pray for His Truth to be revealed. And then listen.
“He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” – James 1:18-22 [NLT]
Every morning as I get ready for work I find myself brushing my teeth and glancing in the mirror. The mirror reflects what I look like at that moment. It is the truth. It is real. There is no façade, no clouded view, no distortion. But when I leave the bathroom and can no longer see that mirror image, the mirror is useless to me. It means nothing. My appearance will change throughout the day. Hair will stick up. I might get a scratch from my dogs. One never knows. But the mirror image is useless.
In James we read about self-deception. People hear the word of God and it goes in one ear and then out the other. The Bible says that it’s like someone who looks in the mirror and walks away and doesn’t remember what they look like. What the passage is referencing is how the mirror is useless when we walk away. It means nothing. When people hear the Word of God and walk away without acting upon it, it’s like that useless mirror. It is useless. They are deceived. The word is irrelevant in their opinion and ignored.
James spent the time speaking about self-deception because it is something we all fall prey to if we just take the Word of God and nibble on it but do nothing else. It gets us nowhere. It’s like pushing the gas pedal on a car that has a dead battery. There is no action. When you truly hear the Word of God, you act. You embrace. You love. You live the Truth.
“Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.” – James 1:22-24 [MSG]
Today I had Chinese takeout for lunch. The end of the meal always consists of eating the fortune cookie. It said something like don’t just think about it, act on it. Though I am not into fortune cookies, despite finding them tasty for being crispy bits filled with air, the words on the little slip of paper are a great reminder to us all.
See we can all think about living for Christ. We can all think about being a shining light. We can all think about what is good and pure and holy. We can think about how it is good to help the needy. We can think about how it is important to love others. But where does thinking get us? What happens if we all just sit and think and no one does a thing?
Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Today I pray that thinking isn’t the only thing you are doing. Actions speak louder than words. James said to be doers of the word. It’s important to ponder things. It’s important to not rush into things. But if we do nothing else but think, if we never be the hands and feet of Christ, then we miss so many great opportunities. Take advantage of each opportunity. God put these people in your path for a reason.
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” – James 1:22 [NIV]
There they were standing around this big hole while one person was doing work on the lines below. I often wonder why so many people are needed for some of the roadwork jobs. There’s one man needed to do the digging. There’s another person needed to ensure no one drives or walks into the hole, because it has been proven that orange cones sadly aren’t enough. There’s the man in the hole doing the hardest job. Then there are two or more people standing by the hole as spectators. They aren’t the hole diggers, the line fixers, or the hole watchers. What exactly do they do?
In my town they are doing a lot of road work lately. I keep seeing this same thing over and over again. It reminds me of the Church. God’s Word tells us that there are many parts to one body. We each have our own part to play with the Great Commission. Some people are ministers, some are teachers. Some people are encouragers, others are called to the mission field abroad. Some people are prayer warriors. Other people are choir members. The list continues. One thing not on the list is a spectator.
Nowhere does God’s Word tell us to stand around and watch life. Nowhere are we told to not do anything. We are told to feed the hungry, clothe the naked. We are told to share the message of Christ. We are told to encourage one another, bear each other’s burdens. We are to be “doers of the word” (James 1:22). Being doers does not mean simply within the walls of the church. From all this, we know that we have never been called to be spectators. To die for Christ is to live intentionally. To live intentionally means there is no standing around.
“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?”
– James 2:14 [NLT]